The Oscar’s are only a few days, but I decided to give out some of my own awards before then.
As we all know, the Oscar’s can only nominate so many films each year, and they tend to omit many films, filmmakers, and actors that deserve recognition and celebration. So, I have decided to create 15 awards of my own that are not given out on Oscar’s night, set a list of nominees, and choose a winner. Some of these awards are more tongue-in-cheek, however, there are a few that I actually think the Oscar’s should add to their own list of categories.
I wanted to find a way to talk about the year 2019 in film as a whole, and not just the movies eligible for awards this Sunday night. This seemed like a fun and interesting way to do that.
I’m going to go through each award one by one, list the nominees, select the winner, then give some reasoning behind why I chose that winner, and perhaps discuss the other nominees as well. For most categories I stuck to a five nominee limit, except for a few that I thought needed to have ten nominees.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Award #1: Most Memorable Scene
- Avengers … Assemble, Avengers: Endgame
- Jo rejects Laurie, Little Women
- The Fight, Marriage Story
- The Songwriter, Under The Silver Lake
- The Ending, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
- Lunar Chase, Ad Astra
- J-Lo’s Introduction, Hustlers
- Park Family Comes Home Early, Parasite
- Heaven, Her Smell
- Minute of Silence, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
And The Winner Is: The Fight, Marriage Story
I was debating whether or not I wanted to call this category most memorable scene, or best scene. Ultimately, I ended up settling on most memorable scene, but the criteria for winning, and being nominated, was really a mix of how much I will remember that scene and the overall quality of the scene. I also made the decision that I would only be including one scene per film. Honestly, any of these ten scenes could have won this award considering they all blew me away when I first saw them, and each one remains etched into my brain. The reason I chose the fight scene from Marriage Story as the winner is because it feels like a scene that is going to be remembered for a long time. It became, without a doubt, the most talked about scene from this film, and in some ways bigger than the actual film itself. I think this scene is so much more than just the cliché fight scene that has to be included in a movie like this. This fight scene is so special in my opinion because Noah Baumbach strips both of these characters of their voices throughout the film up until this point. Right before this scene we see the lawyers representing these two characters have their own version of a fight in the setting of a courtroom. The lawyer’s back and forth is, of course, much more calculated than the passionate and visceral exchange between the former couple. During that scene in the courtroom both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson can be seen in the background while their lawyers speak for them. Therefore, when Driver and Johansson’s characters finally get their voices back and have their argument, it makes sense that it comes out with so much raw emotion because this is finally their chance to speak for themselves. Baumbach writes this scene so well and both Driver and Johansson are incredible in it.
Award #2: The “Shocked It Wasn’t Terrible” Award
- Dark Waters
- Always Be My Maybe
- Triple Frontier
- Fighting With My Family
And The Winner Is: Stuber
Let me first say this, Stuber was by no means a great film. In fact, it may be my least favorite film amongst all the nominees. However, this category is not meant to go to the best overall film, instead, it is simply meant to go to the film that I was most pleasantly surprised did not suck. I saw the trailers for Stuber and immediately thought it looked terrible. In fact, I did not even go to the theater to see it. I waited until it came out on Amazon Video, and decided to rent it on a day where I apparently had nothing else going on. And guess what? I had a pretty good time with Stuber. It’s a funny enough movie with some actually decent action sequences that take full advantage of the film’s R-rating. The chemistry between Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista was much better than I was expecting it to be, and overall this is a solid 90-minute, easy to watch, fun comedy. Fighting With My Family was a close second here, because I was not expecting much from a WWE biopic with a February release date. I turned out to really enjoy that film though. It is going to come up in more than just this category though, so I decided to give Stuber some love while I could.
Award #3: Best Performance That Wasn’t Nominated At The Oscar’s
- Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
- Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
- Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
- Robert De Niro, The Irishman
- Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell
- Lupita Nyong’o, Us
- Awkwafina, The Farewell
- Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse
- Song Kang Ho, Parasite
- Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy
And The Winner Is: Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
This one hurts because I really wanted to find a way to give this award to Adam Sandler. I couldn’t deny how much I love Her Smell and Elisabeth Moss’ performance in it though. Her Smell was released in May, and for most of the year this was my number one performance of 2019. I know that not a lot of people have seen this movie, and it had no chance of getting any recognition from the Academy, but I am still in awe of how well Moss was able to pull off this character. The character that she plays, Becky Something, is a self-destructive rockstar dealing with addiction. I admit that it’s not exactly a character-type that we’ve never seen before on film. However, Moss approaches it in a way that felt different from anything I had ever seen before. The frantic nature she brings to the character when she is under the influence of drugs is anxiety-inducing and feels unpredictable in just the right way. And, when you compare that to the characters stillness, strength, and sorrow she possesses when she turns sober, the performance becomes even more powerful and more heartbreaking at times. It was just amazing to me that Moss was able to master both aspects of the character so well, which is why I think she is deserving of this award.
Award #4: Best Comedy
- Good Boys
- Long Shot
- The Laundromat
- Brittany Runs A Marathon
And The Winner Is: Booksmart
This was sort of a no-brainer for me since Booksmart was ranked as my number two film of the year. It was the most I laughed in a theater in 2019. I love the chemistry between the stars of the film, and I think the supporting cast was all really great as well. Also, there is an authentic feel to this film that I think is really important to any movie that is centered on people around this age. I also enjoyed how it did not feel forced, out of place, or too preachy when the film got more serious and presented it’s messages to the audience. I actually thought the film did have a lot of interesting things to say about what the current experience is like for young people in America. Obviously I can talk for a long time about how much I love Booksmart, but I want to briefly mention what is great about the other films nominated as well. I wouldn’t say this was an outstanding year for comedies overall, but I think the four other films in this category are all very well done and deserving of a watch. Long Shot is one of the best romantic comedies I’ve seen in a theater in a while. The Laundromat is quirky, smart, and wildly entertaining. Brittany Runs A Marathon is a small, yet effective comedy. And, Good Boys had me laughing from start to finish.
Award #5: Best Music Moment in A Film
- Born to Run, Blinded By The Light
- Heaven, Her Smell
- Being Alive, Marriage Story
- J-Lo’s Introduction, Hustlers
- The Ending, JoJo Rabbit
And The Winner Is: Born To Run, Blinded By The Light
Sometimes you just have to accept and admit your biases. I’m a very big fan of Bruce Springsteen and I really enjoyed Blinded By The Light. Both “Heaven” from Her Smell and Jennifer Lopez’s opening scene from Hustlers also got nominated in Most Memorable Scene, but I just couldn’t give them the win here. The “Born to Run” sequence in Blinded By The Light was one of my favorite theater moments of 2019. It made me feel more than any of the other four nominees did, and ultimately I believe that is the true measure of a great music moment in film. Of course like I said I am biased, I am freely admitting that. I have a relationship with Springsteen’s music and “Born to Run” in particular, so hearing that be played from massive speakers in a movie theater was going to be an enjoyable experience to me regardless of the movie it was attached to. However, I thought this scene in general was really great. The joyful release felt by these characters as they run full speed chanting the lyrics to this song is such an enjoyable experience to watch. Blinded By The Light isn’t a perfect movie, it’s certainly not a movie that’s going to save the world or anything, but it’s moments like this one that make it such a fun film to sit down and watch.
Award #6: The “Dad Movie” of the Year
- The Irishman
- Ford V. Ferrari
- Dark Waters
- Richard Jewell
And The Winner Is: Ford V. Ferrari
2019 was really a triumphant year for Dad Cinema. I don’t even mean that as an insult either because I very much enjoyed all five of these films. However, there’s no denying that they’re really hoping to find an audience in the fathers of the world. This was really a three horse race for me between 1917, The Irishman, and Ford V. Ferrari. Ultimately, I felt I had to go with Ford V. Ferrari, a movie that I think is awesome by the way. But I mean c’mon, cars, America, the 1960s, friendship, and movie stars. That’s Ford V. Ferrari in a nutshell, and more importantly, that’s a dad movie.
Award #7: Most Rewatchable Film
- Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood
- Little Women
- Ford V. Ferrari
- Long Shot
And The Winner Is: Booksmart
This was probably the most difficult category for me to choose, both for the nominees and the actual winner. Ultimately, I decided on these five nominees, which I feel pretty good about because I think all these films will turn out to be immensely rewatchable. As you’ll see, I had to resort to nitpicking when deciding which film should win. To choose the winner I thought about which film I’m most likely to turn on and decide to watch all the way through over the next few years. I found that Little Women and Once Upon A Time probably contained the most rewatchable scenes in my opinion, however, I thought the length of Once Upon A Time disqualified it from winning here. Little Women is amazing, and there’s honestly not one thing I would change about that film, however, it is certainly quite a journey that takes you to a lot of different places emotionally. Therefore, you have to be in the right mood to want to rewatch a film like that. Ford V. Ferrari is an incredibly fun movie, and probably the only reason it did not win is because I feel for a movie to win most rewatchable it has to have a more satisfying ending than that film. After I eliminated those films I was left with the choice of Long Shot vs. Booksmart. Two films that I love, but ultimately I just enjoy Booksmart more. Furthermore, I think there is more in Booksmart that will make me want to continue returning to it, than there is Long Shot.
Award #8: Best Quote
- “I want to be great, or nothing.” – Amy March, Little Women
- “This is me. This is how I win.” – Howard Ratner, Uncut Gems
- “It’s what it is.” – Russell Bufalino, The Irishman
- “I’m incredible at hand-jobs but I also got a fifteen-sixty on the SATs.” – Annabelle (Triple-A), Booksmart
- “When you come to the end of the line, with a buddy who is more than a brother and a little less than a wife, getting blind drunk together is really the only way to say farewell.” – Narrator, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
And The Winner Is: “It’s what it is.” – Russell Bufalino, The Irishman
This was another one of the toughest categories for me to choose. I ended up going with “It’s what it is” from The Irishman, because even though I love all these quotes, that is the one, that I feel, represents its movie the best. The way Joe Pesci delivers that line in the moment is harrowing in the context of the story because it hints at the eventual fate that is coming for the Jimmy Hoffa character. However, that particular quote lives beyond the context of just that one scene for this film. The “it is what it is” idea is one that Robert De Niro’s character presents during the final act of the film, while he struggles to deal with his past and the decisions he has made. That final act of the film is, for me, the best part of the film, and this quote is a great example of simple, yet effective screenwriting.
Award #9: Best Theater Experience
- Knives Out
- Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
- Uncut Gems
- Avengers: Endgame
And The Winner Is: Avengers: Endgame
Again, sometimes you just have to accept your biases and stand by your decisions. Avengers: Endgame was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had and I won’t apologize for that. Before I get to that, let me touch on the other nominees and why I included them in this category. Waves was one of the most visually stunning and immersive films I’ve ever seen. Trey Edward Shults is one of the best young filmmakers working today, and the visceral nature of that film is something I wish more people experienced in the theater. With Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino beautifully recreated the world of Hollywood’s golden age. I found myself wanting to spend more and more time with these characters, and in this world, while sitting in the theater. The tension-filled Uncut Gems was an incredible, albeit anxiety-inducing, theater experience. The non-stop energy in that film made for such an immersive and enjoyable theater experience for me. Knives Out was one of my favorite theater experiences of the year because I love when a movie can bind together an audience and take them on a shared journey together. It’s been said many times since it came out, but they just don’t make movies like Knives Out anymore. That is a large reason why following along with the clever and entertaining story in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit was such a fun theater experience. With all that being said however, the winner of this category remains Avengers: Endgame. I will always remember and appreciate seeing this film on opening night and feeling the energy and joy that that packed crowd had while viewing this film at midnight. It is a movie that knew what its fans wanted and delivered, which you could really feel while watching it in a room full of them.
Award #10: Best Performance In A Bad Film
- Charlize Theron, Bombshell
- Margot Robbie, Bombshell
- Himesh Patel, Yesterday
- Kevin Hart, The Upside
- Justice Smith, Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
And The Winner Is: Charlize Theron, Bombshell
This was a tricky category because I’m not sure if I would call Bombshell a truly bad film, but it certainly wasn’t a good film. It’s fine for what it is I suppose, but I was definitely hoping for more from it, which led it to become one of my most disappointing films of the year. There is no denying that what Charlize Theron does in this film is impressive though. She becomes Megyn Kelly in a way that actually catches you off guard at the beginning of the film. Obviously, there is makeup and prosthetics involved to help with the physical transformation, but Theron even seems to take on the exact voice and mannerisms of the former Fox News host. I think Margot Robbie gives a great performance in Bombshell as well, I just wish, as a whole, the movie worked better for me. I want to say I’m aware that there is a relatively large quality gap between the two Bombshell performances and the others on this list. I chose to nominate Himesh Patel because I don’t think that role was an easy one to pull off and I think he did a fairly good job considering, even if the movie around him wasn’t so great. I included Kevin Hart because I felt that The Upside was the first pretty decent performance of his film career, in which it didn’t just feel like he was playing a version of his persona on stage. Truthfully, Justice Smith got added to this category simply because I needed a fifth nominee, and I thought his performance wasn’t bad in an otherwise incredibly forgettable movie.
Award #11: Most Underrated Film
- Fighting With My Family
- The Peanut Butter Falcon
- Blinded By The Light
- Dark Waters
- Ad Astra
And The Winner Is: Ad Astra
Unfortunately, Ad Astra will probably go down as the great forgotten film of 2019. This was a film that surprised with me how intimate it was, as well as how compelling it was on a thematic level. It may also be the most visually interesting film I saw all year. I wish that this James Gray directed sci-fi film featuring an incredibly nuanced and moving Brad Pitt performance was talked about more, which is why I chose it as the winner in this category. I think another nominee, Dark Waters, is similar to Ad Astra, in that it came out towards the end of the year surrounded by many other great films, but just ended up getting forgotten about quickly. I don’t think either of those films were marketed all that well, especially Dark Waters, which ultimately ended up hurting their box office numbers as well as their overall relevance. The three other nominees are all films I really enjoyed that came out earlier in the year, and just seemed to be forgotten about once the award season films started to come out.
Award #12: Breakthrough Performer
- Julia Butters, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
- Taylor Russell, Waves
- Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell
- Julia Fox, Uncut Gems
- Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
- Jimmie Fails, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
- Da’vine Joy Randolph, Dolemite Is My Name
- Honor Swinton Byrne, The Souvenir
- Kelvin Harrison Jr, Waves
- Noah Jupe, Honey Boy
And The Winner Is: Jimmie Fails, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Disclaimer: I had originally given this award to Florence Pugh for her incredible year, but then ultimately decided she didn’t qualify because she had already broken out before 2019.
This is one of the categories that I think the actual Oscar’s could benefit from adding to their awards. This was an interesting category for me though, because I was struggling to decide between two actors from the same film. Jonathan Majors could have easily won this award as well, and I’ll go as far as saying his performance may actually be better than Jimmie Fails. However, I think Fails is the true center of that film, and since he was responsible for partly authoring the story as well, I chose him. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a powerful film that I do think more people need to see. It is a fantastically directed film that takes a look at family, friendships, the idea of home, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to feel a certain way. I want to say that if I had split this category up into male and female, then Julia Fox would have won as well. Her work in Uncut Gems is attention-grabbing, memorable, authentic, and riveting. I was shocked to learn that was her first film after seeing it. I’m hoping to see a lot more from all ten of these actors though, and I’m optimistic they will all go on to do great work.
Award #13: Best Hidden Gem
- The Standoff At Sparrow Creek
- Her Smell
- The Last Black Man in San Francisco
- Honey Boy
- Under The Silver Lake
And The Winner Is: The Standoff At Sparrow Creek
This is a category similar to the “Shocked It Wasn’t Terrible” award, because I’m not giving the win to the film I enjoyed the most. Her Smell was in my top ten of the year, and is the film out of these five that I am most fond of. However, I’ve heard people talk about that film during end of the year reviews, I’ve also heard people celebrate The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Honey Boy, and even Under The Silver Lake to some degree. On the other hand, I have heard almost no one mention The Standoff At Sparrow Creek, which is why I feel it should win this particular award. This film was released in January of 2019 and I don’t know anyone who has seen it. Although, for those of us who have seen it, it is a hard film to forget. This is a gritty, intense, and gripping thriller that grabs a hold of the viewers attention early and never lets go. It is a short film, it comes in at just under 90 minutes, but I would recommend it to anyone who loves smart, captivating, and entertaining crime dramas. I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but essentially it follows a former cop who investigates the members of a militia after a shooting occurs at a police funeral. It is one of the best movie of 2019 that no one talks about. Watch it.
Award #14: Best First Time Director
- Alma Har’el, Honey Boy
- Olivia Wilde, Booksmart
- Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon
- Joe Talbot, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
- Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim
And The Winner Is: Alma Har’el, Honey Boy
Disclaimer: I have heard Mati Diop’s work on her directorial debut Atlantics is incredible, but I have not gotten a chance to see it yet so that is why it wasn’t included.
I stole this category from the DGA awards and the Oscar’s need to as well. It is essentially the same as Rookie of the Year award in sports, or Best New Artist at the Grammys. It does not make sense to me why the Oscar’s don’t have an equivalent for those. With that out of the way though, let’s get to the winner, Honey Boy was incredible and Alma Har’el did an amazing job directing it. The intimate nature of this film in many ways comes from the incredibly personal script and powerful performance that Shia LaBeouf provides. However, Har’el’s directing also deserves a great amount of credit. She was able to capture the mood and the tone of this story so well and make the audience feel for these characters in a way that did not at all feel manipulative. The way she cuts back and forth in time between old and young versions of the character that Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges play was done really well and never felt confusing, which can be difficult for a first time director. Similarly to Breakthrough Performer I am excited to see what all of these filmmakers do next. I think there are a lot of great young filmmakers in Hollywood who are not only incredibly talented, but also passionate about the stories they tell, which truly excites me.
Award #15: Best Cast
- Little Women
- The Irishman
- Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
- Uncut Gems
And The Winner Is: Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
My final category is another that I think the Oscar’s should attempt to implement in some form or fashion. My choice for the best cast of 2019 goes to Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood. There were a lot of really great ensemble films this year filled with outstanding performances, and I could have easily found more than five nominees for this category. I decided on Once Upon A Time because I think not only are the three main stars terrific, but so many actors seem to pop up in a scene and have “their moment.” From Timothy Olyphant, Margaret Qualley, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, all the way down to young Julia Butters and so many more, this film is littered with great performances, just as a film about Hollywood should be. I can’t say enough good things about the other films nominated as well though. Every actor in Parasite adds to the brilliance of that film and not a single one of them gives a bad performance. Little Women contains some of the most exciting young actors in Hollywood at the top of their game. On the flip side, The Irishman cast includes legends of the acting community giving what very well could be their last great performance for some of them. Uncut Gems manages to bring out incredible performances from both first-time actors and veteran actors as well, which is an incredible thing to do as well. This truly was a special year for film highlighted by some incredible performances.
*BONUS* Award #16: The “Greta Gerwig Deserves An Award” Award
- Greta Gerwig
And The Winner Is: Greta Gerwig
As we all know, Gerwig was not nominated for Best Director at the Oscar’s, and it’s starting to look like she is running behind Taika Waititi for Best Adapted Screenplay. So, there’s a good chance she ends up taking home no awards at this year’s Oscar’s. I wasn’t prepared to let my awards end without recognizing her though. Therefore, she is the recipient of the first annual “Greta Gerwig Deserves An Award” Award. Congratulations, Greta.